The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3 - 70

J. Michael Denton, Leia K. Cain

he received that assignment remains unclear,
like the choices in the application.

Gender Policing and Roommates
The microaggressions (i.e., the looks and comments per Torino, Rivera, Capodilupo, Nadal,
& Sue, 2019) Ishmael encountered from his
roommates' guests are form of gender policing. Ishmael demonstrated a great deal of resiliency dealing with the gender policing but still
felt uncomfortable in his own living space. His
roommates did not intervene, making them
complicit in the microaggression and gender
policing. Although not physically violent, the
roommates' guests' questions and stares are
a form of genderbashing (Namaste, 1996).
Genderbashing questions the dignity and validity of certain gender expressions in a space.
Ishmael was not safe from having his personhood invalidated by guests in his space.
In this situation, HRL facilitated and
enabled genderbashing by assigning Ishmael
roommates who did not share his gender. But
even had the housing assignment been made
correctly, merely housing trans students with
cisgender students and providing no additional support enables genderbashing and policing. The construction of diverse, supportive
educational environments requires complex
thought and structuring (Hurtado, Alvarez,
Guillermo-Wann, Cuellar, & Arellano, 2012).
Placing trans students with cisgender students
without planning and intentionality can be
oppressive to trans residents. In this historical moment, HRL units and staff need to be
actively and explicitly pro-trans and affirming
of students whose identities and presentations
do not fit within normative gender (or transnormative) expectations and categories. Staff
members need trans-specific training and resi70

dents need educating about trans people and
hegemonic gender norms. Students who feel
compelled to enact hegemonic gender roles
may harm or exclude trans and queer students
(Namaste, 1996; Wade, 2017).
Fortunately, Taylor, whether through luck
of the draw or intentional placement, experienced not only a better outcome but one that
was helpful in his transitioning process. Our
intent is neither to critique Taylor's experience
for the sake of an academic paper nor to criticize Taylor or his roommate. Instead, we highlight an important element in this interaction:
Taylor lacked a clear vision of what being trans
meant for him. When Taylor's roommate provided a tangible yet singular picture of transman life, Taylor gravitated toward that. Taylor's
roommate provided both a useful model and
inadvertently led him down a transnormative
path (Vipond, 2015).
To restate Johnson (2016), Taylor's roommate (through no fault of his own) provided
both an "empowering and restraining" example
of transmanhood (p. 466). We are in no position to evaluate the effect this had on Taylor; he
described a strongly positive impact his roommate had on him. Yet also during interviews,
Taylor expressed limits to the range of gender
expression he was willing to accept, calling
some expressions "snowflake genders." These
were gender identities he found to be primarily
on social media, "trendy ... they're just feelings."
Ishmael expressed similar concerns. During
member checking, Taylor expressed some
regret over his wording at the time. Our intention with including these comments is not to
fault Taylor or Ishmael but rather to share their
perspectives and reflect their concerns about negotiating gender bashing and policing.

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING



The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3 - Intro
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